Playing for the first time this season on a national stage, the lights were simply too bright and the task too daunting for an inexperienced Southern California squad.
Elijah Johnson scored 14 points, Conner Teahan added 13, including four 3-pointers, and No. 11 Kansas beat USC 63-47 on Thursday night.
The Trojans have no senior scholarship players on the roster and start four underclassmen.
"The stage was a bit big for our guys," coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We looked slow, we looked bad. And we didn't shoot the ball well."
In USC's final tune-up before Pac-12 play begins next week, O'Neill was left desiring more from his team. Saying that the Trojans were in need of a signature win, they failed to muster the intensity needed to pull off the upset.
Aaron Fuller scored 19 points for USC (5-8), which shot 34.7 percent from the field.
USC wasn't able to recover from a rather forgettable first half. The Trojans shot 22.7 percent, settling for mostly long-range jumpers. They had as many turnovers (13) as they did points.
"The turnovers killed us more than anything," O'Neill said. "I'm frustrated, the players are frustrated, too."
There would be no upset in this one.
The Jayhawks overcame a sluggish start in their first true road game of the season with a strong defensive effort, forcing 18 turnovers that led to 18 points.
"We were ready to come in here and have one of those grind it out games," Taylor said. "We ran our offense really well and got what we wanted."
Neither team was sharp in the early minutes, combining to miss 15 of 21 shots. The Jayhawks' defense eventually wore down USC and they slowly built their lead.
Trailing 10-8, Teahan gave the Jayhawks the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. After Byron Wesley made a runner for USC, the Jayhawks closed the half with a 12-1 run.
Johnson had a steal and layup, Taylor was fouled while making a layup and hit the free throw, and Jeff Withey hit a pair from the line. Robinson then stole the ball at midcourt and drove in for an empathic dunk to make it 22-12.
Teahan hit another 3 as Kansas took a 25-13 lead into halftime.
"We didn't match their intensity," Fuller said. "That's why we were blown out."
Maurice Jones, USC's top scorer, was held to seven points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Withey finished with nine points and nine rebounds. The Jayhawks outrebounded the Trojans 39-29.
Robinson, held to four points on four shots in the first half, had a jumper, layup and a dunk on consecutive possessions to extend the lead to 52-30 after halftime, much to the delight of the pro-Kansas crowd.
Kansas won its seventh consecutive game in the series despite its second-lowest scoring output of the season. Only the team's 61 points in a loss to Duke were less.